Easter, also called Pascha (Greek, Latin) or Resurrection Sunday, is a festival and holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day of his burial after his crucifixion by the Romans at Calvary c. 30 AD. It is the culmination of the Passion of Jesus, preceded by Lent (or Great Lent), a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance.
Most Christians refer to the week before Easter as "Holy Week"- it contains the days of the Easter Triduum, including Maundy Thursday, commemorating the Maundy and Last Supper, as well as Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus. In Western Christianity, Eastertide (or the Easter Season) begins on Easter Sunday and lasts seven weeks, ending with the coming of the fiftieth day, Pentecost Sunday. In Eastern Christianity, the season of Pascha begins on Pascha and ends with the coming of the fortieth day, the Feast of the Ascension.
Easter and the holidays that are related to it are moveable feasts which do not fall on a fixed date in the Gregorian or Julian calendars which follow only the cycle of the sun; rather, its date is determined on a lunisolar calendar similar to the Hebrew calendar. The First Council of Nicaea (325) established two rules, independence of the Jewish calendar and worldwide uniformity, which were the only rules for Easter explicitly laid down by the council. No details for the computation were specified; these were worked out in practice, a process that took centuries and generated a number of controversies. It has come to be the first Sunday after the ecclesiastical full moon that occurs on or soonest after 21 March, but calculations vary.
Easter is linked to that of 'Jewish Passover' by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in the calendar. In most European languages the feast called Easter in English is termed by the words for passover in those languages and in the older English versions of the Bible the term Easter was the term used to translate passover. Easter customs vary across the Christian world and include sunrise services, exclaiming the Paschal greeting, clipping the church, and decorating Easter eggs (symbols of the empty tomb). The Easter lily, a symbol of the resurrection, traditionally decorates the chancel area of churches on this day and for the rest of Eastertide. Additional customs that have become associated with Easter and are observed by both Christians and some non-Christians include egg hunting, the Easter Bunny, and Easter parades. There are also various traditional Easter foods that vary regionally.
The Easter Bunny
Rabbits and hares have been associated with spring since ancient times. It is thought that the Ango-Saxon Goddess of Spring, Eostre, had a hare as her companion, which symbolised fertility and rebirth. It's hardly surprising that rabbits and hares have become associated with fertility as they are both prolific breeders and give birth to large litters in early spring. The legend of the Easter Bunny is thought to have originated among German Lutherans, where the 'Easter Hare' judged whether children had been good or bad in the run-up to Easter. Over time it has become incorporated into Christian celebrations and became popular in Britain during the 19th century. Many children believe that the Easter Bunny lays and hides baskets of coloured eggs, sweets and sometimes toys in their homes or around the garden the night before Easter Sunday --- much like Father Christmas delivering gifts on Christmas Eve. This gave rise to the tradition of the Easter egg hunt which is still popular among children today.
"Here Comes Peter Cottontail"
Seymour S. Sassafrass, an eccentric, yet friendly peddler, and inventor, tells the tale of Peter Cottontail, a young Easter Bunny who lives in April Valley, where the Chief Easter Bunny supervises such Easter items as colored eggs and chocolate candy.